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Gattung's parting shot:

The Government should spend hundreds of millions of dollars in partnership with phone companies if it wants to see widespread fast broadband soon, according to outgoing Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung.

It would cost $1.5 billion to give most people a high-speed broadband Internet service, but Ms Gattung says industry players would cover only part of that, because of the high cost and uncertain revenues from the investment.

It would be "reasonable" for the Government to lead investment in broadband to lift economic performance, in the same way the state spent money on roads.

If not, it would take "much, much longer" to get fast broadband around the country.

Telecom plans to spend about $500 million on the Government's Digital Strategy target of 90 per cent of New Zealand getting access to fast broadband within three years. It is highly expensive to run fibre-optic cable from Telecom's phone exchanges to about 7000 roadside cabinets.

That leaves a $1 billion gap to be filled by other industry players, or the Government, possibly in some form of partnership with private companies, she said.

Others argue that Telecom will have to spend more to catch up on investment in the face of competition, brought about by government regulation.

Ms Gattung said the Government's broadband target of five megabits a second speed was "desirable" but how the industry would get there and who should pay was not clear.

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